Monday, July 31, 2017

#CollectiveMemories - Folk Cures and Practical Magic - Oral History Night

Participants describing types of poultices to Dale Jarvis.
On Wednesday July 26th, Dale, Andrea (McGuire), and I went out to Spaniard's Bay for the Folk Cures and Practical Magic Oral History night. The event took place at the Wesley Gosse United Church in Spaniard's Bay where 22 people came out to share stories of cures, charms, and recipes for ailments such as warts, arthritis, cuts, colds, freckles, etc.

The Cures and Practical Magic Night is part of the foundation’s Oral History Roadshow. This project is an initiative of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Office of the HFNL made possible with assistance from the New Horizons for Seniors program. The Oral History Night Roadshow will see researchers travel from community to community, hosting a series of Oral History Nights, open-mic storytelling sessions led and inspired by seniors in that community.
Andrea taking notes on the cures and charms.
We discussed recipes for bread poultices used to draw out splinters, and to cool burns and mustard poultices which would be spread over the chest for a cold. Several people remembered Aunt Eminy Barrett who would charm warts but wouldn't accept thanks for the work. Shelly Bowring went to see Aunt Eminy as a child and hasn't had a wart since. Shelly also shared her own knowledge of using a wedding band to make the sign of a cross to remove a sty, or using a needle and thread to divine whether or not someone would have children and the amount and sex of the children.
Shelly Bowring and her daughter Courtney Bowring.
Midwives and midwifery were discussed and there were stories of babies being thrown in the snow or dunked in hot and cold water until they were able to catch their breath. Two woman at the event were delivered by midwives and there was a discussion of Anne Marie Sheppard from Trinity Bay who was said to have delivered over 1200 babies!
Sharing stories!
If one was nauseous during pregnancy a mixture of 2 tbsp cider vinegar, and 2 tbsp of honey mixed with water would settle the stomach. Cures for seasickness included a ginger drink or a cloth bag of salt worn around the neck. The bag of salt could also be used for car sickness.

When the crowd was asked about uses for vinegar they repeated the second verse of Jack and Jill. We were told brown paper and vinegar could cure headaches and bruises! Jack and Jill is a traditional English nursery rhyme dates back to the 18th century and there are several variations. The version repeated last night is as follows:

Jack and Jill went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water
Jack fell down and broke his crown,
And Jill came tumbling after

Up Jack got and home did trot,
As fast as he could caper;
And went to bed and bound his head
With vinegar and brown paper.

If you want to learn more about vinegar and it's uses check out this blog post on the Folklore of Vinegar!

We finished off the evening with a cup of tea and some blueberry cake. This is a just a small sample of the stories we heard in Spaniard's Bay. We will be doing some follow up interviews and are hoping to produce a booklet of practical magic.  If you would like to learn more keep your eye on the blog, our Facebook, and Twitter! If you know any cures or charms reach out by phone to Terra at 1-888-739-1892 ex. 5 or or Andrea ex. 7,

Cup of tea!
~Terra Barrett

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